Or why I refuse to cut back on salt.
A study from Belgium has found an association with decreasing salt consumption and cardiovascular death.
Jan Staessen, a professor of medicine at the University of Leuven in Belgium and one of the authors of the study in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association, says this study does not support the recommendation of a general reduction of salt intake for everyone, although salt reduction could be beneficial in lowering the blood pressure of people with hypertension. “Lower sodium intake is recommended for people with high blood pressure and people with heart failure, but recommending it to the population as a whole, I wouldn’t do without proving it’s completely safe,” he says.
“If one lowers sodium intake to lower blood pressure, this change in sodium activates several systems (including the renin-angiotensin aldosterone system) that conserve sodium, and those systems are implicated in disease processes such as damaging the arterial wall and kidneys,” Staessen says,
via The Great Fitness Experiment
Or maybe at least, not unhealthy. I came across this article in It’s Time to End the War on Salt: Scientific American looking at the lack of evidence for salt as a bad thing.
I’ve been coming across articles for years that point to how its really not proven that salt causes health issues (particularly high blood pressure and heart disease) despite every popular health news article listing avoiding salt as something medical science advices. I’ve been sensitive to the claims because I do seem to be sensitive to sodium imbalances – or maybe I eat too varied a diet…
I need to deliberately incorporate salt into my diet if I’m eating a diet that I consider healthy or I get muscle cramps. For example – earlier this week I tried to go swimming and had to stop after each 25m lap to ease out the foot cramps. The next two days I sprinkled salt on my breakfast boiled eggs and by my Friday swim I was only hampered by my terrible swimming technique. I know my maternal Grandmother suffered terrible leg cramps after doctors put her on a low salt diet in her 90s so this might be a genetic thing as I know my Grandmother didn’t eat a low-carb diet.
So mentioning low-carb diets – I’m still only a fraction of the way through Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories – but have gotten to the part where he talks about how carbohydrates cause your kidneys to not release as much sodium so therefore your body retains water in order to keep your body in balance. Which certainly seems to match how it feels in my body. I’ve been sprinkling salt on my eggs, switched to tuna in brine rather than springwater for my lunchtime tinned tuna, and try to remember to sprinkle a bit into my cooking for dinner at night (some kind of protein and veggies) and I feel good and in shape. If I have a couple of days out with friends and therefore have several meals of carb heavy foods – I’m bloated and puffy feeling even though I’ve likely eaten less salt.